Glint’s Steven Buck discusses how to make the employee satisfaction survey worthwhile

You want your employees to feel fulfilled at work and your business wants to build a brand as an employer of choice. But how do you turn both those visions into practical HR realities?

One important place to start is to look at the wide range of applications for improving the employee experience. The most compelling of these relate to the areas of employee feedback. But employers are not always great at it. In part, the technology available has hampered their efforts, as it was just too crude.

But time’s moved on and modern survey platforms now exist that make the process of gathering and understanding employee feedback less arduous, and far more timely and meaningful. HR managers can finally get rich data to work with on what their teams are experiencing in their day-to-day lives in the company.

As Ben Hatch, Employee Engagement Programme Manager at LinkedIn, comments, “[Using a modern employee engagement platform means] the data is ready instantaneously [so] we’re not waiting weeks or months after the survey closes to present the data”. Meanwhile, Pam Edwardson, Operations & Global Learning Programme Manager at US-based tech firm Marvell, adds, “Frequent insights and action planning tools are an integral part of our strategy to attract, engage and retain the very best talent, and as our data repository grows we’ll be able to do advanced analytics and understand more how we can make Marvell a better place to work.”

If you would like to have the same effect in your organisation, here are the key planning, design and participation pitfalls to be avoided when it comes to properly capturing employee engagement.


Poor Survey Planning

  • A lot of companies don’t know how much data they have at their fingertips. Many aren’t aware how they can turn the engagement survey into something applied and actionable. So, in the employee outreach planning phase, take stock of what data sources can be pulled together first
  • Not involving the right stakeholders. It’s essential to get the right people involved in order to set the programme up properly – getting their input on what success looks like for them, what’s important strategically, and so on
  • Not recognising data protection or union concerns.This is a major issue in Europe with GDPR, but has implications wherever you trade now.


Poor Survey Design

  • Too many questions. There’s a tendency to ask every possible question, in case employees don’t get a chance to have their say. That can overload users, especially if they feel unmotivated to do the form-filling in the first place, so look to exploit wherever possible advances in new HR tech like comment sentiment analysis, which means plenty of extra insight can be gleaned from a few well-honed questions
  • Trying to be too specialised. Modern employee listening platforms have the ability to run ‘hot topic’ surveys on an ad hoc basis, leaving the broader organisational ones to be scheduled and analysed differently.

Survey Participation Pitfalls

  • Forcing people to respond drives the wrong kind of behaviour. Employees should always see a defined quantifiable benefit to answering the survey, for themselves and their companies
  • Not taking advantage of today’s tools. Modern survey platforms can be run on any mobile device so even the most paper-dependent companies have a chance to take part.


Survey Analysis Pitfalls

  • How low should you go? While it’s very useful to explore deeper levels of analysis it should be remembered that the impact of a single employee who is having a bad day may distort the general picture unhelpfully. Better: look to understand high-level trends, which are much easier to capture. Also note that even if the problems might be the same at different levels, the actions associated with them might be different at different levels
  • Don’t run too much post-survey. Doing one thing well is much more powerful!
  • Stop thinking of your survey as a number generator. A better approach is to start using surveys as any other type of management intelligence: to drive improvements in performance through better conversations and so better behaviour.


Summing up, when used judiciously, modern employee feedback mechanisms can provide a detailed, real-time view of how engaged your employees are, enabling you to do everything you can to keep them happy and connected.


And to finish with another useful observation from a customer who is doing just this: “The data that’s provided from our people survey is absolutely invaluable. It’s the only empirical evidence we have of our return on investment” (Sonia Stocker, Head of Planning & Insight for the property team at broadcaster Sky).


The author is Regional Director (EMEA) at employee engagement leader Glint